• Prof. Lamdan

FOIA Exemption Presentation Resources

Updated: Feb 1, 2021

Guidelines for Presentations

In small groups, we will introduce our colleagues to each FOIA exemption. This presentation contributes 20 points to your final grade. Here is the grading criteria.

FOIA exemptions are fascinating: They demonstrate where Congress draws the lines separating transparency and privacy, reveal the government's rationales for withholding records, and prompt a lot of our most interesting FOIA litigation and court decisions.

These presentations will be 10 minutes of introductions to kick off a class discussion on the exemption. If a case is assigned as reading for the exemption, you'll be "on call" to answer questions about the case. (You will not be penalized for not having answers to case-related questions - I don't want you to stress out too much about being on call.)

You can make any slides/handouts/any tools that you'd like if they help you organize your speaking points, but you are not obligated to make any materials. Some things that would be interesting to discuss include:

  • Legislative history - why was this exemption included in the FOIA?

  • How have courts interpreted this exemption - what FOIA disclosures are required and what disclosures are prohibited?

  • How frequently is your exemption invoked? Is it common or not? (Note, some exemptions become popular during certain administrations/events. For instance, Exemption 7 was popular during the Mueller investigation.)

  • Are there any juicy news stories/historical events involving your exemption?

Here are some helpful materials to spark your research:

Government & Non-government Organizations Have Created Awesome Resources On FOIA Exemptions:

Be prepared to talk about the following topics:

  • What does your exemption cover?

  • Why does your exemption exist? (Consider rationale, legislative history, "winners and losers" from a records access perspective)

  • How do courts assess whether the exemption applies? (Discuss major cases, holdings, and court interpretations and tests)

  • How often is your exemption invoked? (For instance, b(5) is pretty common these days, but b(9) is pretty rare. Why is that so?)

  • Examples of your exemption in the news/current or recent events (if any exist that you think would be interesting to discuss)

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